Season Predictions Heading Into Week One
By Al Stahl
The Lions enter the 2016 season largely considered as an underwhelming team. With a new general manager and lots of new faces, that’s not entirely surprising. Here are my thoughts on what we should expect from this year’s Detroit squad.
Most of the season record predictions you’ll find scattered across the web have the Lions finishing with a losing record. You can usually discount any of these predictions you read that refer to Matthew Stafford as “Matt” Stafford, or if their primary reasoning centers on losing Calvin Johnson.
With that said, there are plenty of reasons to doubt this team. The offense has looked downright terrible in the preseason, there are tons of question marks on the offensive line, linebacking corps and in the secondary. There are even unknowns at tight end and wide receiver. Generally, when you need so many things to go right, you end up with a disappointing result.
Perhaps many of those same predictions we’ve been reading all offseason failed to account for the health of specific players across the league. Detroit heads to Indianapolis to face a team that has been decimated by injury lately. Division rival Minnesota lost their starting quarterback for the season on an apparently freak and grotesque knee injury (get well soon Teddy). Tony Romo broke his back and although he is on schedule to be healthy by the time the Lions head to Dallas, he’s no lock to play in that game.
Adding it all up, and you could legitimately argue that the Lions’ win total will swing 3 or 4 games. You probably won’t have any trouble finding a willing partner to banter with. So as the season begins, here are some specific and uneducated guesses about the 2016 season.
The Lions Will Sweep the AFC South
Detroit hosts the Titans and Jaguars this year. Facing these two perennially bad teams at home should be enough to for the Lions to overwhelm these squads that are on the rise (well, Jacksonville at least).
As I mentioned before, facing a banged up Colts team to start the season is just convenient timing. If the Lions are going to drop a game against this division, it’s going to be against Houston. My guess is that the offensive line has the majority of their kinks worked out by the time these two teams face off in Week 8. By keeping Stafford upright more times than he ends up on his back, the offense will be able to score more than the Brock Osweiler led Texans offense.
The Lions Win 4 Division Games
With Bridgewater sidelined for the season, it’s the Sam Bradford show in Minnesota. I’m so sorry Vikings fans. Recently, I took a look at how the Lions have performed within the division over the past few years. They finished with a 3-3 division record in 2015, 5-1 in 2014, and 4-2 in 2013.
I bet you wouldn’t have guessed the team was 12-6 in the division over the last 3 years.
Now, the Bears will be better this year, the Packers get Jordy Nelson back, the Vikings still have a top 5 defense, but I think Detroit manages to sweep at least one division rival this year.
Graham Glasgow Doesn’t See the Field
A lot (A LOT) of fans wrote off center Travis Swanson the moment Bob Quinn selected Glasgow in the third round. While Swanson underperformed in 2015, I thought right from the start that the Glasgow hype was to #Lit. It seemed every Lions fan had him penciled into the starting lineup halfway through the season. Some even thought he would start out of the gate.
Glasgow was certainly drafted with the intention of starting him eventually, but barring injury, I don’t think that happens in 2016.
The Lions Field 2 Pro Bowlers This Year
The Lions have tons of star power talent on the roster. Matthew Stafford, Marvin Jones, Golden Tate, and Eric Ebron all have the talent to perform at a pro bowl level on offense. The defense may even boast more pro bowl options in players like Haloti Ngata, Ziggy Ansah, DeAndre Levy, Darius Slay and Glover Quin.
But the Lions aren’t sending half of their team to the Pro Bowl. Take your pick of any one player listed above. Here’s the kicker (pun intended), the Lions send a special teamer to the Pro Bowl this year. I’ll go with punter Sam Martin.
Flipping the Script on 2015
Last year, the Lions started out awful. At the halfway point, the team was 1-7 and their season was over before the playoff race even started. The team managed to get their act together, rallying a 6-2 record in the second half and salvaging their season (to some degree at least).
That schedule last year had a brutal start. I mean, it was just unfair. As a reminder: @ San Diego, @ Minnesota, vs. Denver, @ Seattle, vs. Arizona.
That was just rude.
This year, the Lions’ schedule is much easier with tons of bad teams in the first 8 weeks. Detroit could easily reach a 5-3 record and it wouldn’t shock me to see them at 7-1 at the halfway mark. The second half will be where the Lions come back down to Earth. With 4 division games and two back-to-back road contests against the Giants and Cowboys, the Lions will finish the second half of the season no better than 4-4.
So there you have it. The Lions are going to perform well within the AFC South and within their own division, Travis Swanson holds onto his starting spot all season, the Lions send just two players to the pro bowl, and Detroit flames out at the end of the season after a hot start.
Let me know how dumb I am on social media! You can find me on the Twitter machine @LethalSax. You can also @ our site account @SideLionReport and let us know your predictions for the 2016 season!